Tirana, June 30, 2020 - Barnahus Albania and CRCA/ECPAT Albania, hosted online this morning the 1st National Forum on Combating Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents in Albania. Although Albania has made considerable progress in respecting the rights of the child, public institutions and child protection services are still far from being fully prepared to provide protection and services for the children surviving sexual violence and exploitation.
In early June, Albania was shocked by the story of a 14 years old girl who was raped and later sexually exploited by a paedophiles group, while videos of her being abused were put online in social networking sites. This case was preceded by several other cases of young girls who had fallen victim of sexual abuse in Fier, Tepelenë and Kavajë, raising alarm bells for the Albanian institutions and civil society.
The latest study by CRCA/ECPAT Albania into sexual crimes showed that children under the age of 14 are the main victims of such crimes, of which 83% are girls. The largest study on violence against children in Western Balkans (BECAN study 2013) showed that at least 1 in 10 children in Albania is a victim of sexual abuse and harassment.
The Forum was organised under such circumstances, where the society expects the public institutions and the civil society to come up with new initiatives to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation. The main speakers were members of the Albanian Parliament, senior representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice, the Albanian Ombudsman, the National Agency for Child Protection, the National Police Authority, representatives of the child protection system and major CSOs in Albania.
The main discussions focused on identifying shortcomings in the child protection system, law enforcement and justice, crime reporting, and social services for the survivors of sexual violence. The forum addressed the need to strengthen cooperation between public institutions and civil society organizations to address sexual abuse cases while provide institutional and professional support to children who survive sexual violence. The forum called for identification of new sources of support for the services of various sectors for better protection and rehabilitation of children victims of sexual violence and their families.
The National Forum "Combating Sexual Violence Against Children in Albania" coincides with the opening of the national movement #WEARE1 for the protection and awareness of children, families and society, on reporting and denouncing sexual violence against children, but also changing social norms that accept silence of the victims in the face of the crimes.
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